Saturday, October 22, 2011

Inherit the Wind

I saw the movie a third time around a few days back. “Inherit the Wind” was the 1960 movie version  directed by  Stanley Kramer, of a real time incident in the USA down south in 1925 that shook the conventional notion and conformity of religious diktat on creation. The incident that triggered the prosecution of a public school teacher for teaching “Darwin’s theory of evolution”. Those were the days when government funded schools in America were proscribed from teaching the scientific theory of genesis of man and evolution of life. The religious right vehemently renounced the evolutionary theory, stigmatised Darwin, and declared him an anathema and a persona non grata. It was sin, blasphemous and a crime to teach or believe that man was descended from the monkeys and the apes. Children were taught the Biblical fairy tale of creation and that was considered indisputable and inviolable.

The movie captures the core of the subject, ‘the right to think’, and not just the ephemeral matter of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution, or the sleight of God in creation. The right of the thinking man! It was an individual’s right to think independently, which was endangered in the prosecution of the teacher against whom the whole town of Hilsburgh and the establishment panoplies.

                     Spencer Tracy & Frederic March in the film

I heard about this fascinating story and the movie itself from Aravind, my son. He was then in his twelfth class at the boarding school in Ketty, Nillgirs. The dramatised adaptation of the movie was enacted by the senior boys for the school anniversary. He donned the role of Mathew Harrison Brady the fundamentalist politician who appears in court to pillories the teacher, and his close friend Mani, the role of Henry Drummond who defends the accused. In the movie the role of Brady was brought to admirable life by Frederic March and Spencer Tracy the role of Henry Drummond.

The movie had amazing court room drama, histrionics and crisp dialogues with repartees, all which made one pulsate to think. And feel the ethereal pleasure when the mind is free and thought boundless. The movie itself begins with the old song,”the old time religion”, played in the back ground. It ends with the death of the fundamentalist prosecutor who goes hysteric in the court room and dies there of a massive cardiac arrest. The last shot has Henry Drummond, the defence attorney walking away with the copy of “The Evolution of Species” and the “Bible”.

The dramatised version was a highly awaited one, and the boys and the girls did enormous back stage work with dedication to excel the play. I was eagerly anticipating the day as I and C had never missed a school cultural function or sports for the twelve years our children studied in their alma mater. And that being Aravind’s final year in school, I and C would want to move heavens, keep aside other engagements and tide over all difficulties to be in the front row. Aravind, as the Head boy was awaiting and looking eagerly to sign off in style from the school that blessed him with invaluable life in his formative age.

                     Mani Prasad & Aravind ( Henry Drummond &  Harisson Brady) from school days

Then nemesis in flesh and blood (I cannot help phrasing my feelings strongly), struck and I was left behind with whimper and helpless. C had to travel alone to Ootty to the function. I had to prioritise a meeting that was so vital that I stayed back but was a damp squib in the end. Thanks to the people who timed the meeting and made it a successful not starter, I felt in such way that I even believed that they had a design in my misery and missing Aravind’s dramatics.

I waited in anticipation, C’s arrival back with the children late that night as the Pooja Holidays were following the next day. The play was given a standing ovation by the whole audience (parents, children and staff). The best actor was decided in an extremely narrow margin and won by the sweet looking Mani. C mentioned that Aravind sent Mani on stage to collect the award for the best play as it seemed he was anticipating him to be called to collect the prize for the best actor. However though he must have felt a wee bit sad, he said he was happy that Mani was chosen as he admirably portrayed Henry Drummond. It was good to see a healthy competition that ended well. When I met the Principal after a few days he expressed regret that the judges had to deliberate much and decide narrowly the winner for the best act. The play was a great success and when others told me that I was quite unlucky to miss not being there, I felt miserable and terribly sad.

It was only after I watched the film, and without an iota of hesitation eulogise the thespians Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly and Frederic March that I began to wonder how well the children have enacted the play for it to be so raved about.

Hence I tried to catch up with the lost essence  by watching over and over, the film itself. I would recommend that the film be watched, any which way you can, buy it or down load .The monkey trial as the incident was called in real time had a parting theme as well.

“He that troubleth his own house shall ‘Inherit the wind; and the fool shall be the servant to the wise of heart.” (King James Version of the Bible – the book of proverbs).


Insignia said...

It was unfortunate for you to miss your son's program. The movie seems to be a cult one. Thanks for sharing. Will have to hunt for it

adithyasaravana said...

thanks for sharing the movie.. It is definitely burdening to stay away when our kids expect us to be there when they are on stage..
Incidentally i too had written something about a movie reiview. though it was not intended to be written as a post.
happy diwali..

Haddock said...

The movie sounds interesting. Must have a look at it.

anilkurup said...

@ Insignia,

B, I assure you that you will miss much if you miss this film. Try to grab it any which way you can.
Yes sometimes we are left to rue some misses .

@ Adhityasaravanan,

As a doctor who always give much to the hand of God besides his , you must watch it.
Yes indeed it is always a good feel to watch children do what you wanted always to do.

@ Haddock,

It is .

Happy Kitten said...

The right to think and to do what he think is right.. guess this is most precious to man.. more than riches.

Hats off to your lovely children.. or is it hats off to their parents?

You sound like a working mother, when she misses so much of her children's life....

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,
Me no mother me father ha!
yes it is infarct a good feel to see that kids can do something which we dreamt of , but could not or did not.

....Petty Witter said...

Well done all concerned,you must be so proud of your son. A facinating film that is much repeated here in England and is often discussed in classrooms across the country.

anilkurup said...

@ Petty Witter,

As I said in reply to comments of other bloggers , it is always a good feel to see children do things that we wanted to do. The film as you said is a good subject for debate. It will be interesting to see revelations of the word fare with a scientific theory based on empirical evidences.

dr.antony said...

"Every human being or person has the right to think freely, to believe freely and to change his beliefs.
Every human being or person has the right to hold, seek, express, communicate and receive ideas and opinions in any form"

is from the Universal declaration of human rights.But the simple reason for the declaration is that these rights were always violated and still do.
I am downloading the movie..let me watch it.

anilkurup said...

@ Doc Antony,

Doc laws , legislations and rules are there to violate. There is no dearth of laws and no shortage of instances of violation. That sums up human character.

The movie is among the ones you have in the hard disc with you- copied from my computer. remember?